Category Archives: road trip

Great American Road Trip

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Whether you already have a destination in mind or need ideas, We Travelers Three is here to help.

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We Travelers Three is an independent agent working under AAA Ohio Auto Club and therefore we have the ability to tap into the overwhelming fountain of knowledge and resources that AAA provides for its members, not to mention the peace of mind that comes with staying at a hotel with a AAA rating.  We Travelers Three can give you all of that plus the personal one-on-one attention that you want for your family vacation.

 
Call us for all of your travel needs from that all-inclusive tropical vacation, family theme park vacation or the great American Road Trip, We Travelers Three is here to help.I can help you plot your road trip, pointing out attractions, mountain ranges, national seashores, lakes and scenic byways.  We Travelers Three takes your vacation personally and plans as if we were planning the trip for ourselves.

Morning at The Wilds

By Tom Driver

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Pasture view, previous afternoon

I stepped out onto the deck of our yurt and the breeze immediately sent a chill from the top of my still wet head down the entire length of my spine.  I wore four layers on my torso but it wasn’t enough as each gust passed right through the fabric.  Perhaps I should’ve waited at little longer after my shower to come outside.  After spending the night in a yurt at Nomad Ridge in The Wilds, I wanted to spend as much time observing their unique collection of animals.  There’s no other location in the midwest, certainly not within two hours of our front door, where one can observe Bactrian camels, one-horned Asian rhinos, and Persian onagers before breakfast.  I was hoping to catch another glimpse of the new-born Asian rhino.  The previous afternoon we watched her for a few lucky moments before her parents ushered their infant to the safety of the dense shrubs near the pond.

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Yurts on the hillside

The yurts are positioned half way down the side of the ridge and each one has a small north facing deck overlooking a section of The Wilds’ 10,000+ acres of pasture.  The wind, coming from the south, seemed to gain speed as it sloped down the wooded ridge on its way to the rolling hills in front of me.  As the breeze engulfed the back of my head it felt much colder than the mid 40s temperature suggested on the iPhone.  I catch a chill faster than an old woman in a drafty northern Ireland cottage but I’m determined to get in as much animal observation time as possible.

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Yurts with private deck

I marveled at the impact a peaceful morning away from the bustle and noise of civilization has on the senses.  I listened but couldn’t decide if the breeze was playing the trees, or if the trees harnessed the wind as it passed through their branches creating the nice steady, rustling rhythm.  The birds, which I thought may have missed the memo about heading south for winter, were layering in a pleasant melody on top of the tree’s rhythm.  As they swam in the pond at the base of Nomad Ridge, several ducks contributed more percussion with some well timed quacks and flapping wings.  Their water take offs and landings for the short flights between the neighboring ponds was a joy for both the eyes and ears.  Not wanting to feel left out, two Trumpeter Swans swam over to help fill in the gaps with some well timed blasts.

The sun had been on the rise for a little over an hour before it reached the gathering of humps situated on the top of the hill which borders the western edge of the pasture.  The brown coats of the Bactrian camels offer a sharp contrast to the thin layer of green grass on the hillside.  The camels could survey the entire pasture from their vantage point on the highest hill in this section of The Wilds.

DSCF0012I moved my binoculars east and counted sixteen Persian onagers standing on the hillside, some enjoying the sun while others stood in shadows of one of the clouds as it moved north.  Two smaller, and I presumed younger, onagers ran back and forth across the hillside in what looked like a child’s game of ‘you can’t catch me’.  I continued to pan over the pasture with my binoculars until I spotted the bulging grey figure grazing at the bottom of the hill near where the onagers had gathered.  After quick adjustment of the lenses my hopes were confirmed, it was a one-horned Asian rhino in search of a morning snack.  The previous afternoon, I learned from one of the guides she and her mate recently become parents to a baby girl.  Since the staff has tried to entice the family to come inside for the winter.  A few minutes later the second adult Asian rhino strolled into my view and I observed both parents purposely position themselves between the Pe’re David deer and a handful of Persian onagers, and the collection of shrubs and trees lining the pond in the middle of this section of pasture.  The baby must be nestled safely away under the dense vegetation.  I hoped she would come out to warm herself in the morning sun but there was no sign of her.

Thankfully, the sun crept closer to my spot along the south ridge but not fast enough for my chilled fingers.  I still felt the cold through my four layers and wished I had a dense winter coat like the camels I was observing in the pasture.  My wife emerged from our yurt wearing the Irish Fisherman’s wool sweater purchased on our trip to the Emerald Isle.  These are the sweaters the fishermen wear during the winter season and, judging by her lack of a reaction to the last breeze, they have a well earned reputation for fighting off the cold.  I should’ve bought one for myself when I had the chance.

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The Wilds

The sun had stretched high enough to nearly cover the entire pasture and the fall colors from the trees lining the ridge came into full view.  Oranges, burnt reds, yellows, and fading greens provided a colorful border to the rather bland pastures.  The saving grace being the few trees along the lake shore whose seasonal colors made them stand out like the kid who forgot his uniform on picture day.  The scene – rolling hills, solitary trees, wispy grasses leaning in the breeze, clusters of vegetation, some framing small lakes whiles others stand isolated in green pastures – reminded me more of the landscapes described by Robert Louis Stevenson in his Scottish novels collection than the rural Ohio I remember from camping trips with my family.  Rural Ohio is usually covered in thick woods or cleared farmland.  Unless, of course, there is a substantial amount of coal under the ground.  The land that now provides these endangered species a safe place to live and multiply was obtained decades earlier from AEP as part of a reclamation project.

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Fire pit area for use by Nomad Ridge guests

I could have stood there all morning, but my wife was eager to sample the breakfast that came with our overnight stay.  I put down the binoculars and began the 125 step climb from our yurt to the top of Nomad Ridge.  The full 360 degree view of the area, which includes more rolling hills and isolated trees to the east and south, came into our sight line as we finished our ascent.  As the sun continued its climb the few clouds that had shaded the pastures earlier had given way to crisp, blue skies.  The land is not particularly beautiful here, but there is beauty in the peacefulness of the entire setting.

Whether from the energy exerted during the climb or basking in the full sun I was finally shaking off the early morning chill.  I paused for a last look through the binoculars across the pasture.  I saw camels still perched high up on the western hill.  The onagers were milling around about thirty yards east of the camels and a few more Pe’re David deer had wandered into the frame.  Still no glimpse of the baby rhino.  A pickup truck full of rhino grub was parked along the path close to where we all assumed the baby was hidden away.  Unfortunately for the staff, Mom and Dad were more interested in keeping their neighbors a safe distance away from the edge of the pond.  Like all parents enjoying the rare pleasure of a new baby sleeping late, the rhinos appeared motivated to enjoy the peaceful morning as long as possible.  I couldn’t have agreed more.

Just A Little Bit Further…Contest Winner

Recently I came across a great article in Family Fun Magazine that had some great ideas for road trip activities, including the Instant Lap Desk, Hunt for Fun and Souvenir Ornament.

Instant Lap Desk
Photo:  Mark Mantegna

“Every summer our family makes the 17-hour drive from Ohio to New Hampshire,” says Cincinnati native Amanda Nobbe, mom of a 3-year-old and a toddler.  “We travel with cookie sheets and a plastic tote filled with playthings. Easily held on a lap, a cookie sheet can be used as a surface for coloring, playing with magnets and Bendaroos, or holding a snack. It’s an inexpensive alternative to a car-seat lap desk, and when it’s not in use, it fits in the back pocket of the seat.”



Hunt For Fun

Photo:  Steven Vote
Amy Malaise of Petaluma, California, helps her kids explore their vacation destinations with a scavenger hunt prepared in advance. She glues pictures of the items they’re looking for onto index cards (one apiece), then laminates the cards, punches a hole in one corner, and hooks them on a ring for portability. Items vary with the destination but might include nature finds, landmarks, public art, or eye-catching buildings. “You can use your own photos if you have visited the spot before,” she says, “or look on the Internet for information about the place.”




Photo:  Steven Vote
The Brunicardis of Galloway, Ohio, have found a clever way to savor vacation memories: they preserve small mementos from each trip, such as ticket stubs and nature finds, in an inexpensive, clear plastic ornament ball. Each Christmas, they’re reminded of all the great places they’ve been.






  

Well we tried out some of the ideas on our recent road trip around Southern Ohio and they worked great.  The biggest hit was the Instant Lap Desk.  Sydney loved being able to use the cookie sheet to use as a desk to write “notes” to friends or to just color on.  She also had a lot of fun with some magnets that we made out of a magnet sheet and some stickers.   



We collected a few things along the way to make a Souvenir Ornament.  We are looking forward to making it and hanging it on our tree.  

The only one we didn’t try out was The Big Hunt.  Maybe next time.

As promised, I am awarding the materials to make your own lap desk, scavenger hunt book and souvenir ornament to a follower who left a comment on the post.  We only had one comment so by default the winner is:  Heather KO!  

Thanks for reading and commenting.  You will be receiving your items soon!


Just a little bit further…

Win the materials to make your own road trip activity kit.  Keep reading for details.

By:  Kelly Driver

In the coming week, We Travelers Three will be hitting the road.  We have planned a Southern Ohio “Staycation” and can’t wait to pack up and take off to explore some great family friendly sites right here in Ohio.  

We don’t go on road trips that often, the farthest we’ve gone was to Grand Haven, Michigan and back, but we do make the 4-hour trip to the Detroit area pretty often.  This trip to Hocking Hills and Cincinnati is only a couple of hours but it got me to thinking about ways to keep the little ones occupied while on a longer road trip. 
The obvious solution is a portable DVD player or hand-held gaming system however I wanted to find some other options, using the electronic variety as a last resort.
One fun activity to get the kids excited about the road trip as well as feel part of the planning is to have them help you create a Playlist of some favorite songs for the initial departure period.  Throw in some songs about driving, road trips or songs about places you’ll be going through as well as your destination (if you can find some).
A few that we have found in our collection:
1.   On The Road Again – Willie Nelson (an obvious choice)
2.   Life Is A Highway – Rascal Flatts (from the CARS Soundtrack)
3.   East Bound and Down – Jerry Reed (from Smokey and the Bandit)
If you would like to get this Road Trip Playlist all the songs can be found on iTunes.


We’ve mixed these songs in with some Disney Princesssongs,  Imagination Movers, Backyardigans and others of Sydney’s choice.
Since our trip is only a couple hours we want to try to make the playlist last as long as our drive.
After figuring out some of the songs I decided to find some ideas that would work for us and other families for longer road trips.  With the cost of airfare on the rise families are opting for road trips which means finding things for the kids to do.
I found a lot of great ideas but some of the best were from Disney’s Family Fun June/July 2012 issue.  
In an article titled “Are We There Yet?” the author Charlotte Meryman compiled the top 10 readers’ ideas for keeping things playful and stress-free on the road.
All the ideas were great but there were three that really stood out to me and I think that we will try out on this short road trip.

Instant Lap Desk
Photo:  Mark Mantegna

“Every summer our family makes the 17-hour drive from Ohio to New Hampshire,” says Cincinnati native Amanda Nobbe, mom of a 3-year-old and a toddler.  “We travel with cookie sheets and a plastic tote filled with playthings. Easily held on a lap, a cookie sheet can be used as a surface for coloring, playing with magnets and Bendaroos, or holding a snack. It’s an inexpensive alternative to a car-seat lap desk, and when it’s not in use, it fits in the back pocket of the seat.”







Hunt For Fun

Photo:  Steven Vote
Amy Malaise of Petaluma, California, helps her kids explore their vacation destinations with a scavenger hunt prepared in advance. She glues pictures of the items they’re looking for onto index cards (one apiece), then laminates the cards, punches a hole in one corner, and hooks them on a ring for portability. Items vary with the destination but might include nature finds, landmarks, public art, or eye-catching buildings. “You can use your own photos if you have visited the spot before,” she says, “or look on the Internet for information about the place.”





and my favorite…

Souvenir Ornament

Photo:  Steven Vote
The Brunicardis of Galloway, Ohio, have found a clever way to savor vacation memories: they preserve small mementos from each trip, such as ticket stubs and nature finds, in an inexpensive, clear plastic ornament ball. Each Christmas, they’re reminded of all the great places they’ve been.








I would love to hear some of the ways that you entertain your kids on road trips, whether travel songs or activities.  Leave a comment and be entered to win the materials to make your own lap desk, scavenger hunt book and souvenir ornament.   I’ll do a random drawing on or around August 20th.